The Theological Virtue of Charity is a gift from God which helps a man to sacrifice himself to love God and his neighbor. The Virtue of Charity is opposed by the sins of Indifference, Ingratitude, Lukewarmness, Acedia and Hatred of God. The gift of the Virtue of Charity is supernaturally strengthened by the Gift of Wisdom which helps a man remain close to God and fills his mind with the desire and ability to love God and others.
The Virtue of Charity
“Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for His own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God” (CCC 1822). Jesus demonstrates the perfection of love and, acting as the Son of God, gives men a “new commandment” to “love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 15:9,12), with a love that is extended to everyone, even those who are enemies and seek to do harm (CCC 1825); Jesus perfectly demonstrates love from the Cross by forgiving those who crucified Him (Lk 23:34). “Charity is superior to all the virtues. It is the first of the theological virtues: “So faith, hope, and charity abide, these three. But the greatest of these is charity.”” (CCC 1826).
The Theological Virtue of Charity is a supernatural gift from God which resides in a man’s soul in a man’s Will, allowing him to choose to consistently love; Charity is not within a man by nature, it is supernaturally endowed in the Catholic soul by God through the Holy Spirit (Rom 5:5) and is given to each man according to God’s Will. Any growth in Charity in a man’s life is the work of God through the man who diligently works to battle against the obstacle of Charity, which is sin, so he can more perfectly accept God’s Will in his life and perform the works of Charity which God desires to do through the man. Charity does not decrease or lessen in a man’s life, it either exists and grows or it is lost altogether. Charity depends on God, and those who break from God through mortal sin, loose the blessings of Charity.
Charity allows a sinful man to be freed from enslavement to sin by the practice of virtue which allows him to heroically love God and neighbor. Charity directs man to his ultimate end, the beatitude of God; as a result, Charity directs the acts of all the other virtues so as to work together to lead the man and many others to Heaven. The gift of Charity from God infuses and supernaturally elevates all the virtues and “binds everything together in perfect harmony…[and] upholds and purifies our human ability to love and raises it to the supernatural perfection of divine love” (CCC 1827), allowing a man to act with growing ease to be more fully united with God and to love God and neighbor in ways beyond simple human power. Charity fuels a man’s ability to love even enemies who seek to do evil, praying for them that God might deliver them from evil.
Charity allows a man to move from the first and necessary step towards holiness of having fear of the just punishment of God for a man’s sins, but moves beyond the fear of being punished to the fear of disappointing God out of a profound love for God; he firmly grasps his identity as an adopted son of God, is animated by love, and seeks to love God as God first loves man (CCC 1829). As a result of receiving the supernatural gift of Charity from God, a man receives the great blessings of the “fruits of charity [which] are joy, peace and mercy…” (CCC 1829); these fruits allow a man to act with genuine goodness and fulfill his duty to admonish and correct his brothers when they sin, building fraternal communion which draws men together in Christ and His Holy Catholic Church.
Charity drives a man to take action to offer mercy to those who are suffering either from bodily or spiritual suffering; the Church summarizes the types of mercy by the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy (CCC 2447). The man who is infused with Charity from God is compelled to take definitive action to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, shelter the homeless, clothe the naked, visit the ill and imprisoned, and bury the dead, directly through his own hands-on efforts and indirectly by giving alms/money. The Charitable man also takes the heroic action of the Spiritual Works of Mercy to counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish the sinner, comfort the sorrowful, forgive injuries, bear wrongs patiently, and pray for the living and the dead.
The Lack of Charity
The man who does not accept the supernatural gift of Charity cannot keep The 10 Commandments and remains alienated from God (Jn 15:9-10) due to his submersion in sin, a confirmation that a man must not only have the good intentions of loving God and neighbor, but that every man must keep The 10 Commandments to be able to abide in Christ’s love (CCC 1824). The man who does not accept the supernatural gift of Charity in his heart, has a malformed heart, causing him to commit all kinds of vile sins, including, “evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness” (Mk 7:21-22); rather than the blessings of peace and joy from Christ, the man who does not accept and embrace the supernatural gift of Charity experiences torment, anxiety, disruption, broken relationships and sorrow.
The Gift of Wisdom strengthens Charity
To help a man to first accept and then continue to grow in Charity, the Holy Spirit gives a receptive man the Gift of Wisdom which allows every receptive Catholic man to be drawn into union with God and receive a glimpse of His infinite wisdom so that the man might be helped in his pilgrimage towards Heaven. The Gift of Wisdom helps a Catholic man grow towards the Charity necessary for Sainthood by allowing him to encounter and love God more frequently in his daily life, encouraging a man to seek union with God, and leading him to more perfectly seek to love his neighbors.
Sins against Charity
The Theological Virtue of Charity is a single virtue, with no sub-virtues, but is opposed by various types of sins by which a man rejects God’s beautiful gift of Charity (CCC 2094).
The Sin of Indifference
Indifference is a sin against God’s love by which a man refuses to embrace God’s gift of Charity or neglects the divine impulses to live a rich life of love which sacrifices for others. The Indifferent man fails to be motivated by God’s goodness and power in his life, leading him to instead fall into the grips of selfishness and inevitably into deathly sin.
The Sin of Ingratitude
Ingratitude is a sinful blindness where a man fails to see and recognize the astounding gift of Charity from God and fails to thank God by lovingly responding to God and neighbor. The Ungrateful man sees the good in his life as of his own making, or the absence of good in his life as the fault of God or others. The Ungrateful man is often bitter, feeling himself to be somehow a victim of unwarranted torment or a user who believes he is due everything and more.
The Sin of Lukewarmness
Lukewarmness is the hesitation or half-hearted response to God’s outpouring of Charity in a man’s life. The Lukewarm man is neither hot or cold, but tepid, doing nothing or the minimum, perhaps wrongly presuming God will accept his halfhearted acts of Charity; John the Evangelist warns in Revelation, “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot…because you are lukewarm…I will spew you out of my mouth” (Rev 3:15-16), an ominous rebuke of the Lukewarm.
The Sin of Acedia
Acedia, or spiritual sloth, reacts to God’s Charity in a man’s life by being sorrowful and even being repelled by divine goodness. The man afflicted with Acedia chooses to do little, weighed down by an oppressive sorrow that smothers him leading him to a life of laziness and worthless pursuits.
The Sin of the Hatred of God
Hatred of God is one of the consequences of the capital sin of Pride which leads a man to fail to see and accept God’s goodness and His Charity, a severe spiritual deformity because God is perfectly and rightly lovable. Evil and twisted, the man who Hates God typically loves the most perverse of sins and, out of profound ignorance, resents God’s clear commandments against the sins which destroys men’s souls, sins which the man of hatred loves; his hatred leads him to hate God, hate himself and ultimately hate his neighbor.